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Brady's improvisational skills produce Tate's TD catch

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The night before the New England Patriots took on the Minnesota Vikings, quarterback Tom Brady had a message for his receivers.

"He said 'stay alive' on scramble plays," wide receiver Brandon Tate said. "Just be an athlete."

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On the key play of the game in the third quarter, Tate reacted perfectly when Brady was in trouble. The result was an improvisational masterpiece -- a 65-yard touchdown pass that helped lead New England to a 28-18 victory.

"The play broke down," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game. "Receivers look to uncover off the defenders, and Tom looks to find a receiver that uncovers. It's a pretty basic scramble situation."

A closer look at the play shows that on a second-and-10 situation with the ball on their 35-yard line, the Patriots had only two receivers downfield, opting to keep eight men protecting Brady.

Minnesota covered New England's receivers, Tate and Wes Welker, man-to-man with just one deep safety in coverage. Despite Welker being open on a go-route, Brady pulled the ball back and began to run away from backside pressure from defensive end Ray Edwards.

That's when the fun began. Brady scrambled and turned a full 360 degrees before firing downfield to a wide-open Tate, who had seen the scramble and heeded his quarterback's previous instructions.

"He had wheeled and went up the sideline," Brady said. "I just caught a glimpse of it as I turned out of it. I threw it up there. He was wide open and made a great catch and great run."

When Welker ran his route deep, free safety Madieu Williams was 30 yards downfield from Tate when Brady threw the pass. Tate caught the ball in stride, faked a move to the outside to keep Williams off balance and then used his speed to reach the end zone.

"It was really not a very well-run play, but we made the best of a bad situation," Belichick said. "Sometimes those plays happen if you just follow the rules and keep the play alive long enough."

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